Kentucky Derby 2020 Report (5-1-20)

The Arkansas Derby has been split into two divisions, and exciting Kentucky Derby 2020 prospect Charlatan is the strong favorite to win the first division. Bob Baffert’s unbeaten colt looks like the one to catch from the inside post at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, May 2.

The second division of the Arkansas Derby also features a Bob Baffert favorite. Nadal is a perfect 3-for-3, and he won the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park in March. He loves to mix it up on the pace, and won duels in all three races. He will likely face pace pressure again and figures to fight hard throughout.     

Hot Prospects: Basquiat

The Chad Brown trainee stalked the pace and won with something in reserve in his extended sprint debut at Gulfstream Park April 25. The son of American Pharaoh has plenty of promise and figures to stretch out in distance in the near future. He has enough time to make the rescheduled Kentucky Derby if good enough.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2020 Contenders (5-1-20)

(1)  HONOR A. P. (Honor Code – Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush) – Previous Ranking (#1)

Trainer (John Shirreffs) – Owner (C R K Stable LLC)

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:31.00 (1/1) at Santa Anita Park April 24. 

Comments: It was nice to see him return with a quality effort in the San Felipe (G2) March 7. That was his first start in more than four months, and he stalked outside and was clearly second best. The later Kentucky Derby date (9-5-20) definitely helps him. I like his running style versatility and there is plenty of upside here. He is probably targeting the rescheduled SA Derby (June 6), and hopefully that race is able to be run this time. They are trying to get live racing to resume at Santa Anita May 15, but nothing is etched in stone due the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.    

Derby Points (20)


(2) CHARLATAN (Speightstown, by Authenticity, by Quiet American) – Previous Ranking (#2)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (SF Racing, Starlight, Madaket, Stonestreet, Golcanda Stables)

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:12.40 (1/6) at Santa Anita Park April 26. 

Comments: He easily won both starts this year and ran fast throughout in each race. He gets his first stakes test in the first division of the Arkansas Derby (G1) May 2, and he got a huge break when his main pace rival Shooters Shoot came down with a fever and scratched. It sure looks like he is the controlling speed from the inside post at Oaklawn Park on May 2, and he should be long gone if he is as good as advertised.


(3) NADAL (Blame – Ascending Angel, by Pulpit) – Previous Ranking (#3)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Stronach Stables)

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 59.20 (1/46) at Santa Anita Park April 26. 

Comments: Ran his record to 3-for-3 in the Rebel Stakes (G2). He gamely captured his first two dirt sprints including the San Vicente (G2), and he had to run hard throughout in the Rebel. He ran huge at Oaklawn Park last time. He faced pace pressure throughput and showed real determination in his first start around two turns. He proved that he could ship and win, and he handled a wet track as well. The unraced 2-year-old is right back at Oaklawn for the second division of the Arkansas Derby (G1), and he should make his presence felt throughout.

Derby Points (50)        


(4) MAXFIELD (Street Sense – Velvety, by Bernardini) –  Previous Ranking (#4)

Trainer (Brendan P. Walsh) – Owner (Godolphin, LLC)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (5/26) at Keeneland April 25. 

Comments: He was clearly not going to make the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. The first Saturday in September is a much more realistic target, and he is definitely back in the Derby chase. He broke slow and rallied strongly to capture both of his 2019 starts from off the pace including the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. He was supposed to run in the BC Juvenile (G1), but an untimely leg injury forced him to scratch. He had surgery to remove an ankle chip on Nov. 18 and started galloping again earlier this year. He returned to the worktab Feb. 17 and is no longer on a tight schedule. He left Florida last month and had his first move in Kentucky on April 10. They have plenty of time to map out his sophomore campaign.

Derby Points (10)


(5) AUTHENTIC (Into Mischief – Flawless, by Mr. Greeley) – Previous Ranking (#5)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stable)

Latest Workout: 4f in 51.20 (39/41) at Santa Anita Park April 27. 

Comments: He was up on the pace and cruised in all three of his starts as the favorite. He easily beat subsequent El Camino Real Derby hero Azul Coast in the Sham Stakes (G3) Jan. 4, but was all over the place in the stretch. That erratic run second time out had everything to do with lack of experience. He wore ear plugs and was much more professional in the San Felipe (G2). The $350k purchase loves to get into the race early, and he crushed his foes with speed in his first three starts. They backed off on his training after the April 4 SA Derby was postponed. After a month of no published works, he returned to the worktab April 27.
Derby Points (60)


(6) TIZ THE LAW (Constitution – Tizfiz, by Tiznow) – Previous Ranking (#6)

Trainer (Barclay Tagg) – Owner (Sackatoga Stable)

Latest  Workout: 4f in 49.60 (17/44) at Palm Meadows Training Center April 26. 

Comments: The later Derby date might hurt him the most. He would have been one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby if it was run on the first Saturday in May, but the coronavirus pandemic has turned everything upside down. He could not have been more impressive in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby. He stalked the pace and took over in the stretch in both of those races, and they gave him a break after the Florida Derby. He got back on the worktab April 11, and worked three times last month.         

Derby Points (122)


(7) GOUVERNEUR MORRIS (Constitution – Addison Run, by Unbridled’s Song) –  Previous Ranking (#8)

gouverneur morris ark derby.png

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Team Valor International & WinStar Farm LLC)

Comments: He still needs to prove himself in the graded ranks. He was not disgraced in his two grade one outings (Breeders’ Futurity, Florida Derby), and won both of his non-stakes attempts. He gets another grade one chance in the first division of the Arkansas Derby, and he will try to upset Charlatan in that event. He figures to stalk the pace and can move back up my rankings with a strong effort at Oaklawn Park.

Derby Points (14)


(8) MAX PLAYER (Honor Code – Fools in Love, by Not for Love)  Previous Ranking (#10)

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (George E. Hall)

Latest Workout: 7f in 1:26.22 (1/1) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on April 29.

Comments: He made his stakes debut in the Withers (G3) at a mile and an eighth at the Big A Feb. 1, and he raced wide throughout and came running down the stretch to score by an easy 3-1/4 lengths. He had his sights set on the Wood Memorial (G2), but that race was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. He appears to have plenty of stamina and room to develop, and we will see if he can step up and get faster as the year progresses.     

Derby Points (10)


(9) FARMINGTON ROAD (Quality Road – Silver La Belle, by Langfuhr) – Previous Ranking (#11)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Chrysalis Stables, Robert LaPenta)

Latest Workout: 4f in 51.20 (73/84) at Oaklawn Park on April 24.

Comments: He has been steadily improving at longer distances. He graduated around two turns in his third career start at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 12, and was a wide 4th from an outer post in the first division of the Risen Star (G2) at nine furlongs on Feb. 15. He stayed on nicely at Fair Grounds, and added blinkers and finished a good 2nd in the Oaklawn Stakes April 11. He is right back at Oaklawn for the second division of the Arkansas Derby, and he should get pace to chase.   

Derby Points (5)


(10) WELLS BAYOU (Lookin at Lucky – Whispering Angel, by Hard Spun) – – Previous Ranking (#12)

Trainer (Brad Cox) – Owner (Madaket Stables & Wonder Stables)

Latest Workout: 4f in 48.20 (8/50) at Oaklawn Park April 26.

Comments: Finished a solid 2nd in his stakes debut in the Southwest (G3), and went all the way in the Louisiana Derby (G2). He has nice cruising speed on the lead, and the second division of the Arkansas Derby is his toughest test yet. He must overcome the outside post and will have to run hard throughout against the likes of Nadal. It would be nice to see him rate a bit.     

Derby Points (104)   


(11) MODERNIST (Uncle Mo – Symbolic Gesture, Bernardini) – Previous Ranking (#13)

modernist trd.png

Trainer (Bill Mott) – Owner (Martin & Pam Wygod)

Comments: He is really making nice progress. He broke his maiden in his third start Jan. 25, and jumped up and captured a division of the Risen Star (G2) in his first start vs. winners Feb. 15. He ended up a respectable 3rd in the Louisiana Derby (G2), and the well-bred colt will get some time to mature now that the Kentucky Derby is four months away. He likes to get into a forward position and seems to have a decent amount of stamina.   

Derby Points (70)


THE NEXT NINE: (12) Anneau d’Or, (13) Ete Indien, (14) Sole Volante, (15) Enforceable, (16) Candy Machine, (17) Or’effice, (18) Dr Post, (19) King Guillermo, (20) Silver Prospector